Yokozuna Kisenosato To Sit Out Nagoya Basho


In a move that surprised exactly no-one, perpetually injured Yokozuna Kisenosato has declared that he will not participate in the upcoming Nagoya tournament. This marks a record-setting eight consecutive tournaments that Kisenosato has failed to complete, snatching the inglorious title from prior record holder Takanohana who had seven. In addition, this will be the third consecutive tournament where he will not even compete on the first day of the basho.

Although the article cited refers to him wanting to enter Aki, given the nature of his injury, his physical situation is unlikely to be substantially different in September. In recent practice/test matches against a variety of opponents, including Yokozuna Hakuho, his sumo looked chaotic and sloppy. Kisenosato has clearly picked up a significant amount of mass during his 18 month kyujo marathon, and that is likely to further hamper any attempts to return to competition.

As always, we hope Kisenosato finds some path back from the mess he is currently mired within.

19 thoughts on “Yokozuna Kisenosato To Sit Out Nagoya Basho

  1. Must be nice to receive a yokozuna salary for 1.5 years solely for doing ceremonial dohyo-iri. If you can get the gig, who can blame you for cashing in on it?

    Only natural born Japanese may apply, though.

  2. I’m amazed that the powers that be continue to allow Kis to come up MIA basho after basho. These people don’t strike me as the most patient and understanding souls on the planet. And it’s not like the Yokozuna can say he’s coping with post-surgical complications. I think the world of Kisenosato, but, at some point, don’t you have to put it all on the line or simply run up the white flag? This situation has been a travesty for quite a while now.

  3. So now it’s either 15 days in September or retirement? Kisenosato filled a great reservoir of good will over the years but the water level has been dropping for well over a year and the miracle-dispensing pump seems to have run dry.

  4. In the first posting on Bruce’s excellent report, @Bakanofuji mentioned Kis was, of course, still receiving his Yokozuna salary during this long period of inactivity. Can anyone ballpark what that salary is? Or how a retirement announcement would affect his monthly income? I assume if that figure is significant, it would certainly help explain Kisenosato’s prolonged wait-and-see attitude concerning his injury.

    • A Yokozuna’s salary is ¥2,820,000 a month.

      Once he retires, though, it’s not as if he is going to flip burgers. He owns a kabu. So he becomes an oyakata, with a monthly salary of about a million yen a month. Not huge, but decent. He does lose bonuses such as kensho, yusho and any past gold stars, though, as well as the usual unrecorded gifts from his support group.

      • Thank you for the quick and concise response. So, by any and all standards, any Yokozuna’s retirement involves a MAJOR drop in monthly salary. So, you really can’t blame the man for wanting to put off the inevitability of having his annual income chopped that dramatically. At least, I can’t.

        • Kisenosato is partly to blame for foregoing surgery and putting himself in this physical predicament, but no one can blame him for attempting to put off the inevitable. Aside from the salary drop, sumo is his life – accepting the end of your lifelong pursuit, especially when you’ve finally reached the pinnacle of your sport, is difficult.

          The people who should be questioned for letting this thing linger are the YDC and the kyokai. Why stretch this out if there is no light at the end of this 9 basho-long tunnel? And, most pertinently, if Kakuryu was the one dealing with this situation as opposed to Kisenosato, how patient would they be? I’m guessing they would tolerate no more than 4 or 5 consecutive kyujos absent some major surgery. The double standard is both predictable and maddening.

        • I honestly think he believes that he can make it back. He is personally not yet ready to hang up the rope. I think he may have been surprised that it could not “heal naturally”.

          So I think the pay is nice, but he likely thinks he is still going to make it back to regular competition.

          • I’m worried if he does try and compete again, he’ll wind up ruining his dominant hand/arm for day-to-day use. Kind of want to (lightly because otherwise I Will Die) thwack Kise and his stable-master for not going the surgery route.

            • Just his whole approach to his life in Sumo seems to indicate that with him, what you see is what you get. He is earnest, honest and very straightforward kind of human being. So when he says in interviews that he is going to make it back, it’s because he truly believes he can.

  5. As others have said, it’s the sense of favouritism that really rankles here. Would Kak or Hak get this treatment? I doubt it. I seem to recall that Takanohana was given a deadline to return after he missed his 7th tournament, and he was a dai-yokozuna with 20 odd yusho… what has Kisenosato done to earn such indulgence apart from being born Japanese and getting his rank after a terrible drought of native born yokozuna? As far as I know the YDC haven’t given any solid timeframe in which Kise needs to return, only the vague comment that he has to do well when he next competes – well, if he never enters a Basho he never needs to meet their requirements does he?

  6. I don´t get the people who complain about the amount of time Kisenosato has been given to recover by the NSK/YDC.
    Until now it was “the health of the rikishi is not taken into consideration”, the one time they are giving the man a chance to recover it´s not ok because “it has never been done before”, “he is Japanese, that must be favouritism”.
    I read comments here like “oh he gets a lot of money for doing nothing”, these complaints are about what? How a Japanese Association goes on with its money?

    • If he had had that surgery and then given 12 kyujo, I’d say “great, they are considering his health”.

      He is not healing. He cannot heal. It’s not that if he comes back he ruins his health. Not any more than any other 30+ years old rikishi who is in the joi and gets smacked by all the sanyaku. If he comes back, what happens is that he loses bouts and gets a make-koshi and then – by tradition – has to hand in his resignation. Although such resignations were sometimes rejected in the past, it’s still the gold standard for a yokozuna.

      So they are just saving his face. They have not done so for any other Yokozuna. They have acted exactly the opposite way for Kakuryu: “If your butt is not on the dohyo right now you’re toast” is what he had when he had very real injuries. So the double standard is annoying. And it smacks of national favoritism.

      I really don’t think it’s about his salary. It’s just about being brave and saying “I can’t fight like a Yokozuna, so I can’t be a Yokozuna”. Just like Chiyonofuji and many other Yokozuna before him.

      Twitter – in Japanese – is currently full of tweets comparing Kisenosato to Terunofuji. They basically got into health problems in the same tournament. They are pointing out the difference between Yokozuna and Ozeki. The same number of make-koshi or kyujo landed Terunofuji down where he does not earn a salary. Nobody is telling him to “rest as much as he needs to” – they are telling him “rest as much as you need – but you’ll get to jonokuchi and then off-banzuke for all we care”. But Kisenosato is enjoying the privilege of a Yokozuna, and he is enjoying that privilege a lot more than any other Yokozuna ever. That is not fair and does not follow the Japanese tradition of Yokozuna dignity.

      • Thanks for bringing up the Twitter comments, I was reading those a couple of hours ago, and really noting how the consensus seems to be radically different than it was in January. Nobody wins this one.

  7. the attitude and treatment given has to rankle with the other Yokozuna who have been given the ‘or else’ alternative – i guess that’s where their yokozuna diginity comes into play and they appear to rise above it all. i would also assume it could make things a little awkward between K and his contemporaries…

  8. I’m thinking about Harumafuji and how concerned he was for “Kise” when the injury happened. Visible upset and concern. I”d guess that any experienced rikishi must know his career could be altered in an instant.

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